NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- McDonald's (MCD) - Get McDonald's Corporation (MCD) Report has finally taken its first significant step to change perceptions that its food is unhealthy, and in the process possibly awakening its stock price.
On Wednesday, McDonald's announced that it plans to start sourcing chicken raised without antibiotics important to human medicine as well as milk from cows that are not treated with the artificial growth hormone rbST. McDonald's will phase in the new chicken over the next two years, and will start to introduce the new milk later this year.
"Our customers want food that they feel great about eating -- all the way from the farm to the restaurant -- and these moves take a step toward better delivering on those expectations," said McDonald's U.S President Mike Andres in a statement.
McDonald's now joins the likes of Shake Shack (SHAK) - Get Shake Shack, Inc. Class A Report, Chipotle (CMG) - Get Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. Report, and countless others striving to dish out fast food without unnecessary hormones to appease the health-conscious.
Chipotle execs have often trumpeted that it serves more naturally raised meat in which animals are not treated with antibiotics or hormones than any other fast-food company. The burrito-maker believes it was the first restaurant company to offer dairy products, in this case cheese and sour cream, made with milk from cows that were not treated with the synthetic hormone Rbgh.
As for the newly public Shake Shack, it has built its entire business model on signature burgers that are all-natural and hormone- and antibiotic-free. In the process, Shake Shack, Chipotle and other fast casual newcomers have wrested large amounts of market share from behemoth McDonald's.
The move by McDonald's regarding chicken and milk may be a preview of what it plans to do with beef under new CEO Steve Easterbrook, who officially began on March 1. But the news on Wednesday also hinted at a greater focus by McDonald's on chicken on its shrinking menu, something seen recently with the re-launch of premium Chicken Selects.
McDonald's did not respond to an email for comment.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.